tv BBC World News America PBS April 15, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
[applause] >> and now, "bbc world news." jane: this is "bbc wews america." reporting from washington, i am jane o'brien. a tragedy of historic proportions. the world watches as notre dame burns. its famous spire collapses in the blaze. these are live pictures of the scene where refighters are working well into the night to control the blaze. officials now say the iconic towers willurve. thousands have been standing, many inhe silence, ot in tears, as this symbol of paris went up in flames.he >>ost beautiful monument in paris has been burning for an hour. it is just hideous.
jane: welcome to this special edition of "world news america." all eyes this evening on central paris. french officials say they will besble to save the bell tow of notre dame, but two thirds of the roof has been destroyed. earlier they thought the cathedral itself could be lost. it is a glimmer of optimism on an otherwise heart-wrenching evening. llns watched on as the fire burst forth in the world-famous cathedral, tapping the world spire and blackening the skylight. lucy williamson on how it unfolded. lucy: it was, said the president, a part of france that burned today, a part that stood
for 800 years through war, revolution, and religious unrest. engulfed within an hour by flames. towers, begins for resident -- ancient tower beacons for residents a tourists, crumbling into the blaze. its current guardian watched through tears. s is a national disaster i'm very upset. this cathedral is 850 years old. to see the building fall to pieces, the spire falling down as we were renating it, all i can do is pray. lucy: 400 firefighters circled the cathedral to tackle the blaze. the crane stretching to reach the soaring roof. a complicated and fragile operation. tsimply dousing medieval structure with water was not an fts-n fro, press two rescue exp said, because the building could collapse. to tackle the flames inside the building, firefighters had to climb up the tower
nothing else could reach. the flames are beginning to subside now. the damage is beginning to veal itself. the destruction of this medieval symb of paris has left the city under a pall of shock and smoke. people packed in the streets around barely spoke. just watched. idprest macron, arriving at the cathedral with fran's prime minister, had no words to upturnedher, his face in disbelief, as in prayer. those who found words for their impressions one after the other all said the same. >> this is awful. it is terribly sad. it is terrifying. ore fire is uncontrollable. i have been herene hour and there is nothing to do. lucy: the deputy mayorris confirmed the fire had started on the roof and quicy spread. the cause isn't clear. police he begun an investigation. some have questioned whether extensive renovation work
currently undeay here might've sparked this massive blaze. the task now is to assess the destruction inside the building. its woodwork dating from the 13th century. its statues destroyed once before by revolutionaries two centuries ago. many things are said to bepl ireable -- great art, cultural heritage, symbols of protection and hope. what words should we use when it is all of these? lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. parisan american was in when the fire broke out today and he spoke to me by the phone. what did you see? >> we we when the smoke started to biow out. at first we did not know how serious it was going to be because it appeared to be then itimney smoke, an quickly began to intensify within about 20 minutes.
we were there around closing time. the last tour was at 6:45, and we noticed the smoke coming ou 6 arou5. 20 minutes later it really got stronger, it turned green, it turned orange, and finally, dark ulack smoke. it was very diffto breathe initially. stingys started to get and our noses started to singe a little b, so we decided to move further away. jane: it sounds pretty frightening. were people panicked? what was the mood? dave: at first there was confusion. we did not know ngere it was corom initially. we couldn't tell if it was coming from behind the building, the cathedralut itself,e decided very quickly once the flames picked up 25 minutes later, we knew that it was coming directly from the very top spire. it wasn't really panic, it was l moste a somber sadness.
people were gathering on the bridge. you can see the river seine, there were areas where people were lining up to get pictures and people with arms around each other and just standine watching. as one of your gentlemen said earlier, spectators, tmure wasn' you can do but just to watch. jane: what are people saying? what did they think? was there any talk about what may have caused it? dave: no, not really. initially, again, as it first started we were about a block away at that point when it first started. thought itnk anyo was anything ominous, that it was going to be as serious as it turned out to be. there were just murmurs and atter among tourists andri ans alike saying, what is going on? there was a little bit of confusion, and then emergency s vehiclrted to arrive. there was policemen on motorcycles and cars, and later. larger vehic
i guess if there is any good news besides the fact that it looks like they will be able to save part of this, hopefully no one was hurt in the process. jane: are you getting a sense of what this ans to parisians? it is difficult to digest from over here. you are right in the middle of it. what are people thinking now? >> yeah, well, i can say, as an american, we are over here on vacation and there are several tourist sis we have seen. appreciate our american history, but the historical significance and cultural heritage piece of this, whether you are a catholic or christiane or otheris pretty significant. we didn't really talk with many people as they passed by, but it was obvious in the silence, and there was an omins silence as we were watching it together, that we are all witnessing something we will not soon forget.
jane: president macron has been speaking and paying tribute to firefighters who have been tackling the blaze, and he said that the worst has been avoided. a glimmer of hope coming out of paris tonight. he said that the building will stand. that does not takentnto acc the destruction to the historic interior. a short time ago i spoke to phil ip crowther, a journalist with france 24 and the associated press. the structure might beth saved. appears to be what the interior ministry of france is saying. from those two particular towers from the front of them to digital, that is good news. there is a reason why everybody is watching this around the world right now, because notre dame cathedral, even if you have
not visited, you might feel like you have through literature and movies, through simply photos of it. everybody has seen it. those who have visited broht back something special from it. pl is difficult to decide who are the first pwe should think about now. maybe even those who built it centuries ago maybe those who , managed to somehow save it through two world wars. maybe those parisians who walk pat it every day and don'en look at it because it is so normal to them. and those who went to worship inside the cathedral, f whom are outside of it right now at this late hour in paris. that leads us to believe there might be something positive to come out of this. there is a sense of uty in paris. maybe even in france as a wle. jane: extraordinary how quickly -- how much you take these landmarks for granted until something like
this happens. owg the area as you do, why was it so difficult for firefighters to get to it? president trump suggested using planes with water cannons. why couldn't thatye happe go -- why couldn't that happen? philip: that might have seemed like a logical thing to say at the time, but this is a wholet differory here. the civil defense authority in france felt like it had to come out with a tweet written in o english, ty one they wrote this whole evening in english,sc in which they bed why that was simply not realistic, why no planes could flight above notre -- fly above notre dame cathedral and simply dumped tons of water on top of the spire. the would have been tons o water and they would have destroyed this wooden structure in the end. it was simply too risky, say the french authorities. the president was wrong here. it seemed to be another one of his instinctive twts. that is one of the reasons why it was not possible, simply the weight of this water. there are planes like these in france, but they are too far
away. even if this had been a realistic possibility, it would have been too difficult to do. there have been people, fromve friends i'een speaking to, eyewitnesses on the ground who were looking up at these towers and thinking, why aren't we doing more, where are the planes, where all e helicopters. we have a pretty good explanation om the french authorities why that wasn't possible. jane: notre dame sits in the very center of paris. its location is far more than just geography. r centuries it has been in the middle of paris like in the history of france itself. fergal kne reports on the historic and cultural significance of notre dame. alfe in paris, the most desolate of skie billowing into the air. fire crews from across paris
have come here to they possibly can. the striking thing standing among the crowd is just the silence, the quiet of people stunned by the destruction of not just a great french cultural artifactbut one that belonged to the world. notre-dame offered a vision of france that seemed eternal. even as the age of kings and emperors and powerful cardinals had long passed. it was built more an 800 years ago, when kings ruled by divine right. grant and great cathedrals of stone were decided to reach for the sublime. >> ts is absolutely a cultural disaster for all of us, not just the french, but european signicance. harris had been the hot cauldron -- paris had been the hot cauldron of topic architectur -- gothic architecture from the 11th and 12th centuries.
it influenced all our subsequent cathedrals. fergal: notre dame survived britain's devastating wars of religion. it napoleon was crowned emperor by the pope. at thend of world war ii, the bells of notre-dame rang in the hour of liberation. its glories are a source of pride for the people of the city. >> i speak to your english audience to share my immense sorrow, my immense pain, in front of this catastrophe that has befallen notre-me. i have lived here for more than 30 years. my three children were baptized here. what the germans did not destroy was ruined by stupid fire. fergal: the fear of a devastating fire was always thesent. 1930's.mid- enbut it was theation in the modern age that prove catastrophic. these statues were moved for protection just last week. cityht, paris feels like a
that is mourning the loss of an essential part of itself. fergal keane, bbc news, paris. an art wr joined by iter based in ris. it is so much history here, as we have just been hearing. what is your biggest conrn? what has been lost? >> my biggest concern is full-time has been the erasure of the building itself. hasear n ts that art been saved is extr.ely reassuri jane: give me a sense of the content. what is inside theat building is so important? >> inside the building itself you have priceless relics. the crown of thorns, a piece of e true cross, a nail from the crucifixion. those things as far as w know have been said. in addition to what is ored
inside t church, it is how it is stored itself. vaultingh-century themes inside italy. these windows with 13-century glass inside of them. these are the things that ve been lost. those are the things we are noac going to get jane: is there anything like this elsewhere, or is notre-dame one-of-a-kind? kelly: notre-dame i believe is one-of-a-kind.ee it hasa symbol of paris since it was erected in the 13th century. itit is an importantfor faith, the catholic famous for its size, history, and of course those relics. but people and all of france. everything -- it ero where everything in the country is measured.
it is assembled of the resilience that is so inherent to paris. it survived riots, the french revolution, two fold was. to see this in this state in the 21st century is very disheartening. jane:here has been a lack of funding over the years for historical renovation. when something like this happens, how does it make you think of the way notre dame has been treated in the past? kelly: that has been a big issue and i even recently this ye has been in the news in paris quite a lot. they finally get eugh funds to do restorations, and then something like this happens. you wonder why there weren't different types of systems in place for something like this to happen. it's due to the lack of funding. jane: i.s.s t-- is there a concern that other historical places in paris might be looking more closely at general security and emergency respoe? kelly: i would think so.
fosomething like this to happen, it would be unthinkable. for this to happen at the number one most visited site in the city, you have to wonder about the other buildings and monunts. jane: thank you very much indeed for joining me. with me on the phone from new york is a professor of art history at columbia university and never of the american -- member of the american friends of notre dame in paru with thank r joining me. first of all, the good news is they think they can save the building. president macron said that in the last three minutes. how is tha withstand what appears to be a ferocious blaze? and is a demonstration in a sense that we got back system works from and the point of the gothic system was to protect the building through masonry, stone canopies, and in the casof notre dame 100 feet above the
pavement. a tough force people can blaze and fall on top of the vaults. idi't altogether work. i don't have the final details. ndi undershat the vaults were penetratedd and the fire get inside. what he could've been a lot worse but for the masonry. -- masonry vaults. jane: the spire not that old. was a lot of the ctihedral was rely modern if you think of 200 years as being relatively modern. stephen: yes, there was a massive restoration that took led bynhe 19th century the most famous of all french restorers. foras the one responsible reconstructing the central people, the spire, which was he finished the work by placing
an image of the apostles flanking the spire. most tragic and a way, most interesting was he represeed himself as the doubting thomas. thomas, ofoue, is the patron saint ofrs governd masons. he turned away from paris because he did not the work in paris like a gothic. a 250-60-- 1850-60 construction. jane: how likely is it that the cathedral can be rebuilt to an approximation of what provisions are used to seeing? stephen: it is quite likely given the funding. the tragedy is that resources are stretched thin just to rebuild it as it was. friends of notre dame of paris haven't been playing an important role in terms of trying to help, particularly
with -- have been playing an important role in terms of trying to help. the french government takes responsibility for a portion of these massivexpenses, but without outside help it is going to be a prlem. coming back to the original questionre, thon why the building cannot be re-roofed, but of course, the interior furniture meant to be seen. the choir at sumptuous wooden stalls. they would have blazed, and could have done damage to the main piers. jane:it in terms of funding seems extraordinary that when you look at the picturoc and see the of people trying to take this in, that funding would be an issue. are you going to put out an appeal as the friends? sthen: time of every new member. i've only been --me am a very neer. i've only en a member for a
couple of months. but i imagine there will be an immediate appeal to the american friends of notre dame and friends all over the world. there is a massive community of lovers of this building and of all caps the buiings. -- all gothic buildings. jane:hank you very much for that and good luck for any fundraising appeal. stephen:nk tou very much for . jane: a jesui priest turned me earlier from new york. -- joined me earlier from new york. of course notre dame is a monumental tourist attraction full of explain its significance as a holylace, as a church. >> it is the heart of the church in france. its not only an icon of the french church but catholicism and christiany throughout europe. other than st. peter's basilica in vatican city, there is no place that is as closely seen as ol of the european churc jane: what must christians around the world be thinking right now?
tremendousin: sadness. it is the possible loss of irreplaceable religious symbol. paris fre to carrm lady of paris. and it is a tremendous artistic ss. devastating on so many levels. jane: and of course this is happening during holy week. what extra residence does that ad father martin: a sense of great sadness and loss we remember the death and resurrection of jesus, but it also comes at a time of crisis in the church and politil crisis in france. there is this triple resonance with holy week, the crisis in the church, and political crises in france. jane:hat spiritual message can holy week offered -- those things you mentioned, the politica -- what can christians take as any symbol of hope from father martin: the main some
help from holy weetiis the resurr, and even in the darkest moments there is a chance of new life. and the always hope, resurrection and message is that nothing is truly impossible with god aev suffering is the last word. jane: there are two relics notre dame, the fragment of the true cross and the crown f how significant are they? father martin: well, they are traditional relics, and we don't know how far back they go. the church itself is a relic. the faith of people for centuries. you kw, the church in a sense is just as holy as any of the csren the church itself. jane: the archbishop of paris is calling on christians around the world to show solidarity, suggesting that bells be rung to invite people to prior. how important is tha. father martin: prayer is
important in terms of uniting ourselves with one another and begging god for help in our hour of need. i have seen videos of people kneeling in france and praying the hail mary, ave maria. it is hard to exposefoow sad this i catholics and christians worldwide, and prior is theonly -- prayer only thing many people think they can do right now. jane: father mtin, thank you for joining me. before we go, let's w rect we know. the french president has visited the site of the fire, saying the worst has been avoided and the building will stand. officials ha feared the entire structure would be lost. wothey estimate thathirds of the roof has been destroyed. earlier, thousands of parisians flooded the streets to watch it, oany in silencers in tears. firefigh the night and we the damage in
the light of day. already there is talk of the church being rebuilt. i am jane o'brien. thank you for watching tits special edion of "world news america." >> with the bbc news ap our vertical videos are designed to work around your lestyle, so you can swipe your way through the news of the day dad stay up-to- with the latest headlines you can trust. download now from selected app stores. >> funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, and judy and peter blum-kovler foundation, pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs.u >> what are yodoing? >> possibilities. your day is filled with them. >> tv, play "downton abbey." >> and pbs helps everyone scover theirs.
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newour tonight: one of the world's most famous religious landmarks, paris's medieval notre de cathedral, is engulfed by fire, puttingie centof history at risk. then, cleaning up from thisad weekend's weather. at least eight people are killed sster a string of punishing tornadoes moves ache southern u.s. 02and, a conversation with democratic presidential candate andrew yang. plus, tiger woods makes a triumphant comeback for the ages, with his victory in this weekend's masters urnament. all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour.